The military judge presiding over the sentencing of Pfc. Bradley Manning today reduced the maximum possible sentence the former intelligence analyst could face.
Manning, 25, who was found guilty of espionage and theft in the largest leak of classified intelligence in U.S. history, could face up to 90 years in prison, a maximum sentence that is down from the original 136 years.
"The ruling was largely a victory for defense attorneys, who had argued for an 80-year maximum. Still, the 25-year-old soldier could spend most, if not all, of his remaining years inside a prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
"The sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial is in its second week. He was convicted last week of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, five federal theft counts and a federal computer fraud charge for leaking more than 700,000 documents from a classified government computer network while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010."
The Guardian reports that Col. Denise Lind decided to merge about 20 counts, which repeated themselves.
The paper adds:
"'By dividing this ongoing act into two separate specifications,' the motion says, referring to the soldier's transmission of the US embassy cables to WikiLeaks, 'the government takes what should be a 10-year offence and makes it a 20-year offence and unfairly increases Pfc Manning's punitive exposure.'
"Lind granted all defense requests to merge counts, except specifications four and six of charge II that relate to stealing and purloining of the Iraq and Afghan warlogs. Reporters present in the court said they were unable to record details of the judge's ruling because she read her judgment so fast."